Kevin Colbert spoke with the media on Thursday, to answer the questions surrounding the impending offseason.
One of the more interesting answers involved the combine and how it will affect the Steelers free-agency decisions. Colbert stated the team would not even begin worrying about re-signing free agents until after the combine is concluded. In other words, once we know what will be available in the draft, then we'll know who we need to keep and who we can afford to allow to leave. This delay would seem to coincide with reports earlier in the day claiming sources confirming no Steelers veterans were fearing the axe prior to the deadline, leaving us to believe they will simply restructure a few contracts to abide by the law of 51 now, and make their decisions as they roll with the punches
The team will obviously looking at positional players in the combine who match the Steelers own RFAs and UFAs whose departures would create roster needs. Max Starks, Ramon Foster and Doug Legursky will force them to eye offensive linemen. Keenan Lewis will require them to look at cornerbacks. Emmanuel Sanders and Mike Wallace will make receiver a much higher priority than last year's young-money crew would have led us to believe.
Colbert was clear the team will be looking to eliminate the one-sidedness which allowed the team to fall to an 8-8 record and miss the playoffs. He admitted the offense carried the team for the first half, and then the defense was forced to do the same, through to the end. With all the talk about fractures in the locker room, the Steelers will need to seal whatever crack is keeping the entire roster from playing as a complete team on a weekly basis.
However, despite his recognition of the team's flaws, Colbert insisted the Steelers are not a team in transition, which would imply the team was no longer contending for championships until retooling had completed. He believes the team will continue as it always has, and would in no way, shape or form have their decisions affected by the actions of their AFC North rivals - mainly the Baltimore Ravens.
With so many uncertainties and unknowns antagonizing off-season fears, Colbert speaking on behalf of the organization, seemed to feel little cause for concern. He spoke highly of first-year Will Johnson's progression in the offense, and Ben Roethlisberger's progression as a pocket passer; however, he reiterated the team will continue to tip-toe the line between keeping Ben safe and letting Ben be "Ben". He feels the talk about a lack of leadership in the lockerroom is misled, which plays contrary to the comments coming from current players as they tell-all to the media on almost a daily basis.
Like most scheduled press conferences, most of it has to be taken with a grain of salt; but the most telling part of the entire event was the lack of fear over the upcoming season.